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 Home’s Hopes Buoyed as Legislature Passes Three Bills Affecting Its Future

April 22, 2009 - Those hoping to stop the closure of the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home found support for their cause in three bills passed in the state legislature last week.

By a vote of 32-18 on April 14, the Indiana Senate passed House Bill 1001, the budget bill, on its final, third reading. The bill, which originated in the House of Representatives and already included $9.7 million in appropriations for the ISSCH, had been amended in the Senate to establish a task force to study the Home and keep it open for at least another year.

The seven-member task force will be comprised of the following: the governor or governor's designee; state superintendent of public instruction or their designee; director of the department of child services or their designee; an appointee of the Senate's president pro tempore; an appointee of the Senate minority leader; an appointee of the speaker of the House; and an appointee of the House minority leader.

The task force will meet at least once a month, with at least two of its meetings being held at the Home. By Jan. 1, 2010, the task force will submit a report to the governor and the legislative council that will include, among other things, a recommendation about whether the Home should remain open after June 30, 2010.

Because members of the House did not agree with all the amendments senators made to HB 1001, the bill was assigned to conference committee. The committee's four members, Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Dist. 98), Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Dist. 82 ), Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Dist. 20) and Sen. John Broden (D-Dist. 10) will attempt to reconcile differences between the two chambers on the budget bill.

If an agreement is reached by the conference committee, HB 1001 will once again return to each chamber for a vote. If it passes the Senate and House, it will then be sent to the governor for his signature.

Also passing in the House last week were two other bills that had language addressing the ISSCH. SB 191, a bill dealing with alternative placement for certain students, was amended to set up a 19-member commission that would also submit a report by Jan. 1 addressing whether the Home should remain open past June 30, 2010.

SB 191, which passed the House on April 15 by a vote of 77-17, would also prevent the Indiana State Department of Health from closing the Home before July 1, 2010. Like HB 1001, the amended SB 191 did not meet with the approval of lawmakers when it returned to its chamber of origin.

The conference committee appointed to try to iron out differences regarding SB 191 includes Sen. Patricia Miller (R-Dist. 32), Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Dist. 3), Rep. Teresa Lubbers (R-Dist. 30) and Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Dist. 1). If an agreement is reached, SB 191 will be sent back to the Senate and House for another vote.

The third piece of legislation involving the Home that came to a vote last week was SB 16, which was approved 93-6 on April 15. An amendment to this bill, authored by Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Dist. 54) would authorize creation of a commemorative license plate for the ISSCH Alumni Association, with proceeds from the plate going to the association. When The Banner checked Tuesday, the state's website had not been updated to show whether the Senate had approved the amended SB 16 or if it, too, would have to go to a conference committee.

Another bill that originated in the House and dealt specifically with the Home, HB 1722, never made it out of committee once it was sent to the Senate. While the House had passed that bill, authored by Rep. Scott Reske (D-Dist. 37), by a vote of 81-17, it was not on the agenda of bills to be considered by the Senate committee it was assigned to, Rules and Legislative Procedure, during a meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday.

If the Senate and House work out their differences on HB 1001, SB 191, and, if necessary, SB 16, and approve them, the bills will then be sent to the governor. The governor will have three options with respect to the bills: He can sign them, veto them or do nothing.

If the governor signs the bills they will become law. If he does nothing, they will become law without his signature. If he vetoes them, a simple majority vote in both chambers will be sufficient to override the vetoes.


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